Second birthday for UPA-II, but no one is partying
New Delhi, May 21
However, the mood in the government and the Congress, the lead player of the ruling dispensation, is far from celebratory. This is understandable as the UPA government has been lurching from one crisis to another over the past two years, battling a host of scams and scandals, a series of avoidable administrative gaffes, surging food inflation and reeling at strictures from a proactive judiciary.
Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi look decidedly ill--at-ease in their attempts to retrieve the government and the party’s credibility. Their efforts to shake off the “most corrupt” tag through the effective propagation of its pro-poor agenda do not appear to have cut much ice.
Pushed into a tight corner on the issue of corruption, the UPA government and the Congress had been banking on the results of the recent assembly elections to improve its battered image. To some extent, the verdict did bring some cheer to the Congress which notched up a commendable victory in Assam, sneaked past the half-way mark in Kerala and rode to power in West Bengal as a junior partner of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress after toppling the 34-year-old Left Front government.
However, the arrest of DMK MP and M Karunanidhi’s daughter in the 2G Spectrum scam on Friday could not have come at a more inopportune moment. Former DMK minister A Raja is already in jail in the same case while Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi is also behind the bars on corruption charges in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games.
Just when hapless UPA ministers and Congress leaders were hoping that the worst was over and the spotlight had shifted away from the scams which have dogged them over the past several months, corruption has taken centre stage once again. This was also demonstrated by the spontaneous public response to social activist Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption. There are few takers for the Congress explanation that unlike other parties and governments, the UPA has not hesitated in taking action against those accused of graft.
It had removed Shashi Tharoor from the government, axed former Maharshtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and stood by as A.Raja, Kanimozhi and Kalmadi were jailed. The overriding public perception is that this action was made possible by an ever-vigilant and proactive judiciary, which has been pulling up the government with alarming regularity.
The Prime Minister’s personal image took a beating when the Supreme Court set aside the appointment of PJ Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner since he was responsible for his selection. Even as the ruling alliance mulls a course correction with 2014 Lok Sabha elections in view, its inability to curb runaway inflation and arrest the drift in the government remains a matter of grave concern.
Firefighting Goes On
A host of scams and scandals, a series of avoidable administrative gaffes, surging food inflation and severe strictures from a proactive judiciary, it’s been a tough year for the ruling Congress-led alliance
2G scam The SC was prompted to pull up the Prime Minister asking him why no action was taken against the then Telecom Minister A Raja despite several indicators pointing to a looming scam ahead.
CWG scandal High-flying Congress MP and sacked Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi is already behind bars on charges of irregularities in the conduct of the Games. Several other senior OC officials are also cooling their heels in jail.
Adarsh Housing row In a major embarrassment for the government , several top-ranking defence officers and bureaucrats were found having flats in a special project meant for Kargil widows. What’s more, questions were raised on sanction to the project, which was said to be in violation of green laws
PJ Thomas affair The government had to eat a humble pie on the appointment of PJ Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner as it came to light that he was named in the chargesheet in a pending case - palmolein scam.
Niira Radia tapes The leaked tapes pointed towards nexus between corporate lobbyists and politicians. It was also alleged that these tapes were the evidence of the planning of the 2G scam and other criminal and unconstitutional activities.
Surging food inflation Price rise continued to confront the economist-turned-politician Prime Minister with the government appearing helpless and the unprecedented rise in fuel prices that could have a cascading effect.